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Noyes House (1958) is a brick-faced dormitory built by Eero Saarinen around a grassy circle that was originally a garden laid out by Matthew Vassar. The building consists of a three-story block that conforms in plan to part of the outer radius of the circle. The original plan was to erect two of these blocks, but in the end only one was built. Between the two blocks Saarinen planned a café that was built and today serves as a television meeting room.
Saarinen used Noyes as a compact demonstration of the principles of architectural history. The inner façade of the building is faced with brick pilaster-piers divided by pointed glass windows that run from the ground to above the roofline. They are effectively crystal wedges that give space and light to the rooms. Within each pinnacle, Saarinen hung a single globe lamp, effectively creating a "Gothic" face. On the outer side of the building, away from the garden, Saarinen placed the windows flush with the brick piers delineating a classical face that recalls the piers of the Colosseum or the theater of Marcellus in Rome. Inside and outside faces thus recapitulate the major stylistic themes of architectural history reinterpreted as modern form. One further distinction of the exterior is provided by its over-baked bricks that have the color and variety of a handmade Turkish carpet.
On the inside is a remarkable social space known popularly as "the passion pit" for its 1950's streamlined effects and which is notable for its barrel vault segments that articulate and define the interior space. A sunken circular bench, echoing the plan of the exterior lawn, surrounds a coffee table. Here was where Vassar students could socialize with male callers in the days before Vassar was a co-ed institution.
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